Precise CRISPR/Cas-mediated gene repair with minimal off-target and unintended on-target mutations in human hematopoietic stem cells


  • N.T. Tran
  • E. Danner
  • X. Li
  • R. Graf
  • M. Lebedin
  • K. de la Rosa
  • R. Kühn
  • K. Rajewsky
  • V.T. Chu


  • Science Advances


  • Sci Adv 8 (22): eabm9106


  • While CRISPR-Cas9 is key for the development of gene therapy, its potential off-target mutations are still a major concern. Here, we establish a "spacer-nick" gene correction approach that combines the Cas9(D10A) nickase with a pair of PAM-out sgRNAs at a distance of 200 to 350 bp. In combination with adeno-associated virus (AAV) serotype 6 template delivery, our approach led to efficient HDR in human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs including long-term HSCs) and T cells, with minimal NHEJ-mediated on-target mutations. Using spacer-nick, we developed an approach to repair disease-causing mutations occurring in the HBB, ELANE, IL7R, and PRF1 genes. We achieved gene correction efficiencies of 20 to 50% with minimal NHEJ-mediated on-target mutations. On the basis of in-depth off-target assessment, frequent unintended genetic alterations induced by classical CRISPR-Cas9 were significantly reduced or absent in the HSPCs treated with spacer-nick. Thus, the spacer-nick gene correction approach provides improved safety and suitability for gene therapy.